Why Athol Trollip’s troubles are not over despite motion withdrawal
Opposition parties in Nelson Mandela Bay are regrouping after withdrawing the motion of no confidence against mayor Athol Trollip on Thursday.
It provides relief to the DA-led coalition, which has spent much of its term navigating political turmoil in the metro.
Among Thursday’s motions, sponsored by different political parties, was a vote of no confidence against Trollip, speaker Jonathan Lawack and chief whip Werner Senekal. All the motions were withdrawn in a special council meeting.
The meeting on Thursday was the third sitting of the same council meeting which had twice descended into chaos, forcing adjournments. However, earlier this week, after receiving political and legal advice on the matter, Lawack decided to reconvene the sitting.
The EFF tabled the motion against Trollip in a bid to punish the DA for not supporting its push for land expropriation without compensation.
Lawack said the reason for the withdrawal of the motions was because the opposition parties could not muster the numbers for the motions to succeed.
The opposition cluster supporting the motion took a knock as on Wednesday ANC councillor Andile Lungisa was found guilty of assault and sentenced to two years in jail. The vote had been set to go down to the wire assuming all the councillors were present, and Trollip had been expected to narrowly survive the motion.
But with Lungisa and fellow ANC councillor Bongo Nombiba behind bars, the opposition parties were on the back foot.
Nelson Mandela Bay has 120 council seats, of which 61 are needed for the majority that would see the motion pass.
The governing coalition is made up of the DA, Congress of the People, the African Christian Democratic Party and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and has 60 seats in total.
During the last attempt to vote Trollip out of power, the African Independent Congress (AIC), a coalition partner of the ANC, pledged support for the mayor. This was part of a bid by the AIC to punish the ANC for not making good on its promises on moving the small town of Matatiele out of the borders of the Eastern Cape back into KwaZulu-Natal.
However, Thursday’s withdrawal of motion does not mean Trollip is completely out of the woods, as his opponents appear set to table a new motion of no confidence when there is bigger certainty on the numbers required to support it.
EFF leader Julius Malema said at a breakfast briefing with editors and political journalists in Johannesburg on Thursday that his party was still working on garnering the support of DA members of council and other opposition members.
"We don’t want to just give a motion and give Athol a win over us. We think we have 10 councillors [of the DA who would support the motion]," Malema said.
He also said the EFF was hoping that the motion would be decided by secret ballot.
A council speaker has the discretion to decide if a motion must take place by secret ballot.
With Natasha Marrian